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Jerome Salzer writes TYPESET and RUNOFF: A Text Formatting Program and Forerunner of Word Processors


In November 1964 computer scientist Jerome H. Salzer of MIT wrote TYPESET and RUNOFF, memorandum editor and type-out commmandsRUNOFF was the first computer text formatting program to see significant use. It's formatting commands derived from the commands used by typesetters to manually format documents.

"It actually consisted of a pair of programs, TYPSET (which was basically a document editor), and RUNOFF (the output processor). RUNOFF had support for pagination and headers, as well as text justification (TJ-2 appears to have been the earliest text justification system, but it did not have the other capabilities).

"RUNOFF is a direct predecessor of the runoff document formatting program of Multics, which in turn was the ancestor of the roff and nroff document formatting programs of Unix, and their descendants. It was also the ancestor of FORMAT for the IBM System/360, and of course indirectly for every computerized word processing system.

"Likewise, RUNOFF for CTSS was the predecessor of the various RUNOFFs for DEC's operating systems, via the RUNOFF developed by the University of California, Berkeley's Project Genie for the SDS 940 system.

"The name is alleged to have come from the phrase at the time, I'll run off a copy" (Wikipedia article on TYPESET and RUNOFF, accessed 01-31-2010).

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